Virginia Task Force 1 in New Jersey
Posted 12:58 p.m.
As New Jersey and other states north of us recover from a more devastating blow from Hurricane Sandy than we received, our own first responders are there helping.
Virginia Task Force 1 — Fairfax County’s Urban Search and Rescue Team — was deployed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to Little Ferry, N.J., and participated in water rescues and evacuations Tuesday in an area where a levee broke. VATF-1 worked through the night with one team as well as the military.
This morning, the team was briefed by FEMA and they are in the planning stages for the next 24 hours. The water has receded in the Little Ferry area and the team is now able to drive through the entire neighborhood with little difficulty. It was anticipated the team would finish with the neighborhood around noon today
The 80-member team and four canines are doing well and members have been able to get some rest.
The team consists of firefighters, paramedics, search and rescue specialists, structural engineers, physicians, hazardous materials specialists, planning and logistical staff, and canines and handlers. In addition to its regular complement of equipment, the team will also deploy with two inflatable boats, and water rescue specialists.
As the federal sponsoring agency, FEMA pays for all costs and expenses incurred by VATF-1 when members are activated or undergo training. All training, equipment, and personnel costs of VATF-1 are paid for by the federal government on a regular basis, including its new training facility in Lorton. Additionally, when firefighters and members are deployed, there is no loss in emergency response or service to Fairfax County residents, as minimum staffing for all apparatus is continuous for all fire and rescue stations. The training and expertise gained by working with our federal partners in times of local, regional, national and international disasters and emergencies enhances and improves the skill sets of firefighters and paramedics. The skills gained from this partnership provides a direct benefit to county residents by using these skills in making Fairfax County a safer and better place to live and work.